4. Explanation of your EWi
So, what does an Empowered Workplace mean?
Purpose and Place = Empowered Workplace.
Congratulations you are on level three of the path to an Experiential Workplace. At Level 3 your workplace is focused on two out of the three environments, which, depending on those combinations, are classified as Engaged, Empowered, or Enabled workplaces.
This should be seen as an accomplishment and a long way away from being either Non-Experiential or Emergent.
You may notice that the words used to describe these workplaces are all positive because even though many workplaces aren't perfect and are indeed lacking in various areas, they are striving and moving in the right direction.
Let's look at what it means to be in an Empowered Workplace in more detail.
The strategy of the organisation is led and implemented by the CEO. This provides the overarching context and direction to the activities of the company. The CEO should, therefore, ensure that a Workplace strategy is in place to enable higher levels of productivity and that supports the overall enterprise strategy. In an empowered workplace they may well be a workplace strategy in place but this needs to make the connection regarding the vital contribution of the workplace as an organisational performance inhibitor or facilitator. It is highly likely that you have done a lot of work on the cost impact of the workplace but has there been an assessment done on an holistic contribution to the commercial impact on the organisation?
The Workplace is worthless unless it supports the strategic goals of the organisation irrespective of its actual monetary value. The CEO should therefore be asking those responsible if the workplace, proactively supports the roles of those they accommodate? Does it enable cultural transformation, competitive advantage, innovation, agility, capital efficiency, talent optimisation or effective leadership?
It begs the question…who is ultimately responsible for the workplace? Is it FM, HR, IT or is it Corporate Real Estate? In truth a case could be made for each one of these disciplines. Indeed, even legal/compliance, procurement, operations and of course finance also have a role to play.
This is a complex issue, and whilst as a empowered workplace you may well be in a better place than most it is likely that you have not considered all aspects of the productivity potential of your workplace and may therefore be in a state of disarray because no one has taken an overall responsibility for the workplace. Depending on the size and complexity of your organisation this may not necessarily be a viable proposition. However, what we see in almost all clients, is a fragmented approach to the Workplace in terms of strategy and operations with a myriad of reporting lines of those responsible for the Workplace. This means that the opportunities that the workplace provides for the organisation often falls between the cracksIn our experience, most in-house facility management and workplace teams report into the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or the Chief Operating Officer (COO). Perhaps unintentionally this almost guarantees a cost-driven approach where utilisation rates and cost/m² are the only metrics by which the workplace and team outputs are measured.
The need to reduce office costs is a major driver for considering your Workplace strategy, but it’s not the only trigger. Major changes like the Hybrid work revolution we have seen since the Pandemic have provided spark we needed to consider whether our workspaces are really working for us.
The Workplace needs to be in-step with the financial agenda of the organisation. However, efficiency and effectiveness are ying and yang and they need to be in balance. Cost savings will result from the right Workplace strategy, but they should not be the overriding goal, which can result in damaging effectiveness.Workplace Strategy treats the Workplace as a strategic asset and enables organisations to align how they plan, design, and manage their Workplaces with the business goals and objectives of the organisation. If done well, a good Workplace strategy will allow organisations to get the greatest return from their investment. The Workplace is no longer a financial black hole but a value adding contributor to competitive advantage.
The last decade has seen incessant effort on driving down occupancy costs, I am sure it is no different in your workplace. Unfortunately, this has culminated in more and more people being squeezed into smaller and smaller space. Whilst this represent greater space efficiency we have seen that this densification has taken a terrible toll on productivity.
A preoccupation with densities and number of staff /m² may lead to an efficient use of the space but efficiency must be handled with care. It can be an important means of justifying the cost of workplace transformation. Indeed, it can even ensure that it is self-funding, but this should not be to the detriment of its twin soul, effectiveness.
Smart leaders understand it’s not what a workplace looks like, but how it works, that matters more. Your workplace management team should be making the connection with space utilisation and falling productivity and guiding the conversations you need to be having with those responsible for the workplace.
Along with this conversation you need to encourage your executive and management cohort to challenge their respective teams to seek answers to a broad range of questions, that captures employee feedback on how effectively the workplace supports them and their work. Employees are the key ingredient to the success of your Workplace strategy. It is their input that will guide you in the required changes and will create a sense of ownership and build trust with the Workplace team. However, a word of warning! Trust cannot be built overnight and existing organisational issues or internal politics that lay under the surface can negate both the response and the resulting data.The workspace plays a strategic role in any organisation; it is after all the biggest 3D billboard you're ever likely to construct. It showcases your brand to the world and signals to your employees your values, what you value in others and how much you care for your employees. Your workspace is intimately involved in your ability to recruit and retain the best talent. By improving the employee’s workplace experience and productivity and enhancing engagement and other aspects of corporate success.
An explicit focus on cost which may be reinforced by certain reporting lines can lead to occupancy strategies that support higher densities at the expense of effective performance, productivity, talent retention and workplace experience.
True knowledge work depends less on following a repeated formula or prescription and more on applying theoretical knowledge and learning in an unpredictable culture of collaboration, exploration, autonomy, and initiative. This is a more creative way of working and as such it requires a more flexible approach to facilities, and the spaces that are required to optimally perform different types of work.
It is such workers that complain that their offices too noisy and distracting and is disappointed by the lack of different types of workspace including communal and breakout zones for them to work creatively and fulfil their potential. Unfortunately, it is this precise same worker that is infinitely more mobile and in demand and if not satisfied Will simply move to your competitor.
So, the question remains do the average office facility simply provided place to work or do they provide a competitive advantage for the organisation? Workspace as a tool for production has unfortunately been a concept rather than an operating reality.Workplace experience is key to a successful work model (whether that’s hybrid or 100% on-site). While your employees may not visit the office every day in a hybrid work model, the workplace should offer purpose, opportunity, and space for those who do. Workplace experience can be a great tool for improving employee experience.
A January 2022 survey found that 63% of employees feel empowered when they have flexibility to choose when and where they work. That means empowering them with the right tools to choose how they work.
It’s important to build a workplace experience that will keep your employees engaged and empowered to do their best work. According to Gallup’s meta-analysis, employee engagement is on the decline in 2022, with the least engaged coming from full-time, on-site workers. Hybrid and remote workers are more engaged, and engagement is higher for organisations that focus on culture.
Engaged employees are also more likely to remain with their organisation. Collaboration and connection play a big role in creating a great workplace experience. According to a recent study, the top factors that influence employees to visit the office are to get heads down work done (39%) and connection with other colleagues (37%).
In an Empowered Workplace, work is required in the other foundational element of People, and we would encourage you to address the building blocks for this particular elements as listed in section 5 of this report.
5. Individual Elements
The 3 foundational elements of People, Place and Purpose are treated as a holistic construct, and it is recommended that none of the elements be cherry picked or treated in isolation.
That said we have included individual scores to highlight focus areas for action.
Where you have marked your workplace down we would encourage you to ask questions based on the building blocks for that particular element as listed in Section 5.
Clearly as this is a self-assessment and as such is your perception of your workplace. There could be any number of reasons why you have marked a particular statement in the way that you have and so this is not meant as a definitive guide, but it is a good start. There are there are other elements vying for inclusion, and these need to be taken into consideration in a deep dive review along with how the workplace supports individual work activities and demography’s. It would be critical to include these in any business case for a change.
In today's tech heavy world, the physical workspace is merging with the digital and this has implications for our thinking about physical space and change. We need to review a simple mindset of design principles around a practical outlook that makes up an excellent workspace.Whilst each element is included as a standalone and is transferable and there are relationships between them.
Mostly these relationships are positive and self-reinforcing but occasionally these may need caution.
5.1 Enact Purpose through Process
Enact Purpose through Process Score:
A purposeful workplace conveys a regard for corporate social responsibility, the environment, health, and wellness, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The ties to the purpose of the organisation, are undeniable where workplaces are the biggest most visible, actionable, and tangible 3D billboard that reflects the beliefs and values of an organisation.
The building blocks of this element are;
Envisioning is about bringing together the business, workforce, CRE and workplace strategies in a cohesive approach to generate a hypothesis with which to engage the workforce.
The workplace has to fit in with the organisations commercial objectives, so we need to be in step with the Financial agenda of the organisation. Successfully implementing workplace change and occupancy cost reduction strategies contributes to economic efficiency and competitive advantage through:
- Cost Savings
- Cost Avoidance
- Cost Certainty
Efficiency is an important element in being able to justify workplace transformation but this must not be to the detriment of effectiveness. Efficiency enables beneficial change in the ways of working it enables learning and development and is effective in breaking down unwanted symbols of hierarchy both real and artificial that can engender cultural overtones. An efficient workplace can reduce the overall space required by 30%, through built-in flexibility it allows teams to grow, contract and flex whilst removing the need for and cost of churn
Effectiveness and efficiency are ying and yang, they are inseparable and need to be considered holistically. Whilst there may be a natural creative friction between efficiency and effectiveness this can be harnessed to create the best solution. It is therefore essential to create a balance between the efficiency of the workplace and its effectiveness. Staff are able to be at their best all day and every day, it promotes and enables choice, trust and transparency by allowing people to work together and on their own in a private setting. Effective workplaces make life simple, intuitive, and easy and inspire motivate and energise the workforce
Which data points across the employee experience and the environment are needed to justify the change and create sustainable measures of success? We refer to these as the Metrics that matter most.
The Workplace, as with the organisation that it serves, needs to be in a permanent stage of ‘beta’ development. This means an iterative path for workplace strategy, an open dialogue with the organisation’s people, with emergent and frequently adjusted solutions. As organisations work out how to return to their workplaces, hardly any will get it right first time. It will necessitate an emergent process of measure/learn/adjust.